A month after furloughing about 1,000 workers, Burgerville announced Thursday it will lay off 612.
The Vancouver fast-food chain said it recently learned from the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries that any workers furloughed for more than 35 consecutive days must be laid off. Hillary Barbour, director of strategic initiatives, said the company is complying with the state agency.
“For individuals that fell into that category, we made this move. So really, we shifted from furlough to layoff in this case,” Barbour said.
The layoffs, which become official Monday, affect workers both in Oregon and Washington. All workers laid off were among the group furloughed for the past month, Burgerville representatives said.
The fast-food chain employs close to 1,500 people. The layoffs amount to a roughly 40% reduction in its workforce. The Columbian first reported the news.
While layoffs impact both union and non-union workers, the Burgerville Workers Union worries the company doesn’t intend to rehire staff when the pandemic is over.
Mark Medina, a union spokesman, said the union wants to see more promises that workers will be rehired when the pandemic is over.
“We won’t feel comfortable until we have a signed agreement,” Medina said. “And we don’t understand why we wouldn’t have a signed agreement that meets these exact concerns.”
Medina said the union also wants plans in place for workers who have different health challenges, such as if a worker lives with someone with a compromised immune system.
Barbour said Burgerville can’t make those promises because it’s unclear when restaurants will open and how physical distancing measures will change how they are run.